Books & More
119 N. Superior St.
Albion, MI 49224
I love Albion College, the educational institution in south-central Michigan where my son Culver spent a wonderful four years earning his bachelor's degree. In fact, the first time we visited the college during his junior year of high school, I found myself wishing I could go there. Culver has since moved on to grad school, but he got a great education at Albion and also met a great girl, Alysandra, who is currently a junior.
I have fond memories of my many visits to Albion while Culver was in attendance there. Little did I know that the whole time, only a few short blocks from campus in the town of Albion, there was also a great bookstore. I recently had the good fortune to explore Books & More accompanied by Culver and Alysandra. I cannot think of a more apt title for this appropriate shop. It does, of course, have books both new and used, but there is so much more to this delightful store.
The moment I entered Books & More, I was greeted by the store's interesting and gregarious proprietor, Dorothy Dickerson. Dorothy also has an Albion College connection. She met her husband while they were both students and members of the Albion College band in the 50's. The couple have lived in the town since their marriage and have raised eight children there. Dorothy's husband currently runs the music store in Albion, and Dorothy has been running Books & More for several years, celebrating the store's 10th anniversary with an open house last October.
The shop has a charming, old-fashioned look highlighted by ornamental tin not just on the ceiling, but on the walls as well. Dorothy informed me that the front of the store houses mainly new books, while the back has mainly used titles. There is also a selection of YA titles as well as a children's section that includes toys, games, stickers, and a large display of tattoos.
|Dorothy holds two of the lovely Pysanka eggs.|
Books represent only the tip of the iceberg of what is available at Books & More. For starters, Dorothy showed me a case of lovely decorated eggs called Pysanka, old-world Ukrainian Easter eggs created with a wax resist process. Books & More hosts classes for up to eight people to learn how to make these beautiful eggs. Dorothy says the classes fill up fast. (Check out this article for more information about Pysanka eggs.)
One of Dorothy's daughters is in the jewelry business, so the store also sells jewelry. Another daughter raises alpacas and sells fleece to a mill which in turn sends knitted scarves and gloves to the store. In addition, Books & More stocks quite an array of local products including honey, greeting cards, American Spoon jam from Petoskey, Michigan, and Michigan Mints made in St. Johns, the mint capital of Michigan. Adding to the quaint, old-fashioned feel of the store, many of these items are attractively displayed in a collection of old sideboards and hutches.
I was impressed with the store's dedication to the promotion of reading. In addition to maintaining a reading group, Books & More is a vital participant in World Book Night. Indeed the entire town of Albion gets involved. Dorothy explained that last year there were over 20 book givers, and 17 businesses participated. They organized a series of readers who each did 10-minute readings from books that meant something to them. The owner of the watch shop, for example, read from H. G. Wells' The Time Machine. People were invited to attend as many or as few of the readings as they wished. Stars were given out for each reading attended, and three stars qualified the listener for a drawing for prizes, also contributed by local businesses.
|Sylvia serves up great conversation as well as coffee.|
But there's more. In the back of the store is the Real Coffee Espresso Bar staffed by bubbly and outgoing barista, Sylvia Benavidez, who compares the "bar" in barista to the "bar" in bartender, meaning she doesn't just serve drinks; she also enjoys listening to people's stories. People often come in just to sit, talk, and relax, and Real Coffee is the perfect place to do just that. A cozy conversation area surrounds a wood stove, cafe tables are stocked with games, and there is free WiFi as well as a computer available for customers to check email or browse the Internet. While I chatted with Sylvia, Culver and Aly sat by the warm fire and enjoyed a game of Bananagrams.
In addition to coffee beverages Real Coffee also offers tea, smoothies and other cold drinks as well as an assortment of fresh baked goods. Sylvia says the aroma of baking scones draws many customers to the back of the store. On the wall hangs a group of mugs owned by frequent customers who are members of the Coffee Club. Also featured in this area of the store is a wall highlighting the work of local artists.
At the time of our visit, Sylvia was wearing a Real Coffee t-shirt, and I loved the design so much I decided to purchase one for myself. "Brew Adventure Through Reading" is what the shirt says, and they are doing just that at Books & More. Yes, there is definitely more than books at Books & More. I'm sure there is much that I missed. That gives me a good reason to visit this endearing store the next time I am in Albion.